Gardner Denver already considering expansion plans for HQ

Gardner Denver Inc., which is in the process of moving its corporate headquarters from suburban Philadelphia to Milwaukee, is already considering future expansion plans here, according to Luis de Leon, chief executive officer of the firm’s Industrials Group.

Gardner Denver currently has about 25 employees in Milwaukee, which is now the corporate headquarters for the company and the headquarters for its Industrials Group. Initially the company plans to grow the Milwaukee headquarters to about 40 employees.

“We are actively recruiting a team here,” said de Leon. “We’ve got 25 now. We will grow to about 40 and that will give us enough people for the headquarters. Then we will see how things work and decide what else we could bring here.”

One possibility the company is considering for Milwaukee is the creation of a training center.

“We have ideas (for the Milwaukee headquarters),” de Leon said. “We’re going to evaluate each of them.”

The company’s medical division will remain based in Germany “for now,” de Leon said. Its energy division is based in Houston and will likely remain there, he said.

But the corporate headquarters in Milwaukee could grow to “a couple hundred people” in two to three years if a training center is established and other functions are moved here, de Leon said, but no firm plans have been established.

Gardner Denver, a manufacturer of industrial compressors, blowers, pumps, loading arms and fuel systems, is a Fortune 1000 company with annual revenue of about $2.4 billion and more than 6,000 employees worldwide. The company was established in Quincy, Ill. in 1859.
The company still has manufacturing and back office functions, including engineering and finance, in Quincy. Some of the back office operations could also eventually be moved to Milwaukee, de Leon said.

Gardner moved its corporate headquarters to the Philadelphia area in 2010 saying it needed to be based in a major metropolitan area.

Last year the company opened an office at 222 E. Erie St. in the Historic Third Ward in Milwaukee when Milwaukee business executive Tim Sullivan, the former chief executive officer of South Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International Inc., became the president and CEO of Gardner Denver.

The company occupies one and a half floors in the Third Ward building but will likely need to relocate if it grows the headquarters beyond its initial plans of about 40 employees.

“It’s getting to the point that we’re already pretty tight,” de Leon said. “It’s already getting pretty packed.”

If the office is relocated it will likely remain in the downtown area, he said.

“We like where we are,” de Leon said. “The employees enjoy everything the Third Ward has to offer.”

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